Angry Voters Reject Mainstream Parties in EU Elections

Angry Voters Reject Mainstream Parties in EU Elections

JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

The voters’ rejection of mainstream political parties has been the biggest trend in European politics for the past five years. But this weekend’s European Parliamentary elections saw the biggest shift to fringe parties yet.

Nearly one third of those in the new European Parliament are dedicated to destroying the European Union. In the United Kingdom, France and Denmark, fringe parties beat their more established rivals to win the vote. Meanwhile bona fide neo-Nazis will sit in the European Parliament for the first time.

These upstart parties are all very different. Some are genuinely racist. Others are clearly not, although they are given this label by critics. But across Europe the trend is the same. Voters are fed up with the mainstream parties, and want change. It’s a dangerous trend that will only intensify as Europe’s economic crisis deepens.

The UK

For the first time since 1910, neither Labour nor Conservative parties win the British national election. The UK Independence Party (ukip) won 26.8 percent of the vote, followed by Labour and the Conservatives, which both won around 25 percent.

The short-term impact is expected to be minimal. The vote went pretty much as expected, so while this is dramatic news, it is not surprising. Britain will elect a new government next year; however, twice the number of people are expected to turn out to vote in that election. Many ukip voters are expected to return to one of the traditional parties, meaning ukip could once again receive only a small percentage of the vote.

But this election says something very important about Britain’s attitude to the European Union. ukip wants Britain out of the EU. Many Conservatives agree, and the official party line is that they want a new and different relationship with Europe. Between them, these two parties received more than half the vote.

The Liberal Democratic party—Britain’s usual third party and member of Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government—went into this election as Britain’s most pro-European group. That vision was overwhelmingly rejected. The party finished in a humiliating fifth place, behind even the Green party, with less than 7 percent of the vote. The Liberal Democratic party has gone from having 11 Members of European Parliament (mep) to only one.

The election results clearly show that Britain has completely rejected the current relationship with Europe.

France

This election marked the first time France’s Front National came first in a national election; it won 25 percent of the vote. In 2009, it held three seats in the European Parliament—it now has 24.

It was also the worst performance by French President François Hollande’s French Socialist party in its history, scoring only 14 percent.

France’s political establishment did not expect a victory on this scale for Front National, and it is badly shaken.

“It is hard to overstate the momentousness of what has just happened in France,” wrote bbc’s Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield. “A party that just two or three years ago was regarded as not just contemptible, but untouchable, has won a national election.”

The Front National is often referred to as far right, but many of its economic policies are very socialist. It opposes not only the euro but also free trade. The party considers the idea of a free market as a kind of “Anglo-Saxon” conspiracy.

Marine Le Pen has tried to take the party more mainstream since she took over leadership from her father. However, to many it is tainted by anti-Semitism and racism. After it won leadership of several French towns earlier this year, the party announced that Jewish and Muslim schoolchildren would not be offered an alternative meal if pork was served—they must either eat the pork or go without. That one incident sums up the Front National. Its members are not Nazis, but they’re not very friendly toward Jews either.

This result for the National Front is probably the biggest and most disturbing news from the European elections. Several more extreme parties made significant gains, but none have done as well as the National Front. Its policies are closer to those of the extreme groups that sprung up across Europe in the 1930s than they are to the parties that have dominated the post-war era. Its success shows that parties once believed to be beyond the pale have a serious future in Europe.

Denmark

Denmark was the third country to witness the victory of a euroskeptic party. The Danish People’s Party (dpp) won 27 percent of the vote, doubling its performance from last time and pushing the ruling Social Democrats into second place, with 19 percent.

dpp leader Morten Messerschmidt said he wants to “pull Europe in another direction, namely in the British direction.” He aims to ally with Britain’s conservatives in the European Parliament.

Denmark’s attitude to the EU is similar to Britain’s. They are the only two EU countries to have secured opt outs from the euro—all other EU countries are, in theory, obligated to join the euro once their economies are ready.

This type of view is common, especially in northern Europe. Many leaders do not want to break with the EU entirely, but instead want a much looser arrangement. This could lead to a two-speed Europe, where a smaller group of countries form a “core Europe”—a closely integrated superstate, while other nations form an outer tier with much less cooperation.

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel won these elections by a reduced, but still comfortable, margin. The new German euroskeptic party, Alternative für Deutschland (afd), did surprisingly well, winning 7 percent of the vote. Under the motto “Have Courage to Be Germany” the afd called for Germany to reject the euro and return to the Deutschmark.

Like the Danish dpp, the afd would also like to ally with David Cameron in the European Parliament, calling for reform of the EU rather than a complete exit.

The other notable result from Germany was that its neo-Nazi npd won a seat in the European Parliament for the first time. The seat will be taken by Udo Voigt, who has called Hitler a “great man,” encouraged voters to rise up in “armed combat,” and demanded that “German lands” taken after World War ii be returned.

The success of the npd does not come because of any surge in popularity—they received only 1 percent of the vote—but instead because the German Constitutional Court recently changed Germany’s EU election laws. Previously, parties had to win at least 3 percent of the vote to get a seat in the European Parliament. Now there is no threshold.

This change also allowed the satirical parties Die Partei to win one seat, where it plans to “milk the EU like a small, southern European country.” Some of their other policies include rebuilding the Berlin Wall, building a wall around Switzerland, and establishing a quota system where 17 percent of all EU jobs are reserved for lazy people. A sub-group has called for a war of aggression against Liechtenstein.

Greece

Greece is the only other country to send neo-Nazi’s to the European Parliament. There the Golden Dawn party won 10 percent of the vote and is Greece’s third most popular party. Six of its leaders are currently in jail and 18 of its politicians are under investigation and could face criminal charges.

Meanwhile, victory went to Greece’s radical left party, Syriza, with 26.6 percent. The ruling New Democracy won 22.7 percent.

The Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or pasok, which has dominated Greek politics since the 1970s won only 8 percent of the vote. Its support has collapsed completely since Greece received its disastrous bailouts.

Spain

Mainstream parties are also struggling with collapsing support in Spain. In 2009, Spain’s top two parties, the Popular Party and the Socialist Party, won over 80 percent of the vote. This time, these two parties combined received under 50 percent. Just like Greece, Spain’s political landscape is changing completely in the wake of the euro crisis.

One of its upstart parties, the left wing Podemos party—meaning “we can”—formed only two months ago, yet still managed to win 8 percent of the vote.

Across Europe

Euroskeptic, far-right and fringe parties did well in many other countries. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party (fpo) won just under 20 percent of the vote, coming third overall. Hungary’s far-right Jobbik came second, with 14 percent. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam and euroskeptic Party for Freedom came third with 13 percent of the vote.

The success of these fringe groups could bring more deadlock to the European Parliament. The Parliament’s traditional right-wing parties do not have enough seats to form a coalition by themselves. Neither do the left-wing groups. The only possible coalition will be a centralist coalition made up of the largest left-wing and right-wing block.

This is business as usual for the EU Parliament. Except this time, this coalition would only control 54 percent of the seats. This makes it a lot easier for just a few meps to stall legislation.

But the biggest takeway from these elections is a warning. Europe’s financial crisis has rocked its political structure. That structure has not fallen, though it has developed some major cracks.

And that crisis is not over. It’s currently in intermission. The fundamental causes of that crisis have not been addressed. Europe’s traditional political system is struggling. How will it survive when things get even worse?

By voting for these fringe parties, Europe is taking a similar path to the one it took in the 1930s. For more on this history, see our article “Déjà Vu.”

Protesters Storm Presidential Headquarters in Abkhazia, Georgia

Protesters Storm Presidential Headquarters in Abkhazia, Georgia

IVAN SEKRETAREV/AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of protesters stormed the presidential headquarters in Georgia’s Moscow-backed breakaway state of Abkhazia on May 27, following demonstrations by thousands against the alleged corruption of the state’s pro-Russian government. The protesters vandalized the facility and left only after de facto President Alexander Ankvab had agreed to meet with their leader, Raul Khadjimba.

The turmoil comes amid rising tensions between Russia and the nation of Ukraine, which, like Georgia, was part of the Soviet Union before its collapse in 1991. The tensions in Abkhazia have led to speculation over whether new leadership there could try to steer the state away from its Russian alignment, or whether Russian President Vladimir Putin may decide to transform Abkhazia into an official part of Russia once again, as he did with the Crimean Peninsula back in March.

Whatever the outcome of the protests, Michael Cecire, a Black Sea regional analyst at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, says the world should not expect any shift from Abkhazia away from its steep tilt toward Russia. “It may be [an] anti-regime coup,” he said, but onlookers are “highly unlikely to see [a] pro-West turn.”

Mr. Cecire, who is a member of the Georgian Institute of Politics, says that even if Khadjimba ascends to power, Abkhazia would remain aligned with Moscow. Shortly after the protesters stormed the government building, he tweeted this:

Abkhazia broke away from Georgian authority in a 1992-1993 war. In 2008, after Russia had fought a five-day war with Georgia, Moscow recognized Abkhazia—and Georgia’s other breakaway region of South Ossetia—as independent and boosted Russian power over the regions. Only a handful of other nations have recognized the two regions’ declarations of independence, and Georgia insists they remain parts of Georgia.

Just after that 2008 war, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry made this forecast:

Russia’s attack on Georgia in August marks the beginning of a dangerous new era in history. This was the first military strike of a rising Asian superpower—and there will be more! … Today, you have [Western leaders] trying to also bring Georgia and Ukraine into nato. I don’t believe Russia will ever allow that to happen. … Will a crisis occur over Ukraine? That area is the breadbasket of Russia, and surely it is willing to wage war over that as well.

Time has proven that prediction stunningly accurate. To understand Mr. Flurry’s take on the ongoing Ukraine crisis and what to expect for Abkhazia and other former Soviet nations and regions, read “The Crimean Crisis Is Reshaping Europe.”

Russia and China: The Chaos Strategy

Russia and China: The Chaos Strategy

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Are Russia and China really interested in a multipolar world?

Russia and China are coordinating a strategy to conquer the world. On May 20, the National Interest published an article titled, “China’s Grand Strategy Disaster.” It offers compelling insight into its aggressive plan.

“While Beijing’s power is growing, so are its problems. So why is it picking fights with so many of its neighbors?” Brad Glosserman asks. That’s a good question. As Glosserman reasons, pressing domestic concerns should be drawing the full attention of China’s leadership, but it is not. Rather, China is ramping up aggression on multiple fronts, including getting behind Russia’s push to upset the international order. China’s behavior baffles Glosserman and many others.

“Bejing seems intent on irritating or picking fights with most of its neighbors,” Gloserman continues, “while aligning itself with governments determined to upset the international legal order that China’s leadership says it supports” (emphasis added throughout).

That’s exactly right. China is intent on picking fights—it is purposely sowing chaos.

As Glosserman correctly observes, China’s rhetoric remains the same but its policy is quite different. Something has changed, and that change is relatively recent. The question is why. What is going on here? Why is China purposely sowing chaos?

Is there a connection between Russia’s very aggressive behavior and the equally aggressive posturing of China? The timing is more than coincidence.
Notice a potentially connected and intriguing comment by Geoffrey R. Pyatt, United States Ambassador to Ukraine. Pyatt took part in Ukraine: Thinking Together, a conference held in Kiev this past May 15 to 19. He was interviewed by Julia Ioffe for the New Republic. The interview appeared online May 20.

Ioffe asks Pyatt about Russia’s clandestine involvement in the Ukraine: “[T]o what extent are these Russian plants and Russian special agents? I was surprised to see huge lines at the referendum on May 11. Is that because there were very few polling stations open, or what?”

Here is Pyatt’s fascinating answer:

There are also a lot of people who are upset; because of the information war there is incredible fear. People in the East have been told that Kiev has been taken over by fascists, that they’re coming to steal your property and rape your daughters, and you have to mobilize to protect yourself. The thing that’s important to remember—and my EU counterpart is the one who reminds me of this all the time—is that until February 22, there was no discussion in Ukraine about the Russian language or federalization. These were not topics of national debate. This was part of this Russian strategy, which was intended to create chaos.

The New Republic titled the interview “Ambassador to Ukraine: The Russian Strategy Was Intended to Create Chaos.” Is there a connection between Russia’s very aggressive behavior and the equally aggressive posturing of China? The timing is more than coincidence. Russia and China are purposely trying to create chaos, and it is a fairly recent and noticeable trend! Are we witnessing a coordinated strategy? This may be hard to prove, tenuous at best, a shot in the dark, but as we shall see, it should not be dismissed out of hand.

Notice this commentary by P. H. Liotta that first appeared as an article in the Summer 2002 issue of Parameters and was republished online at the Strategic Studies Institute. The title of the article is “Chaos as a Strategy.” Liotta explains:

The chaos strategist thus targets the American national security decision-making process and, potentially, the American people, rather than American military force, in order to prevail. Such a strategist seeks to induce decision paralysis. In a strategy of chaos, the key objective will be to convince American political leaders that no clear solution, end-state or political objective (other than the cessation of chaos) exists in the strategist’s sphere of dominance.

Line up Russia and China’s aggressive and chaotic behavior with America’s flaccid response and it can be proven America is stuck in childish decision paralysis. American leadership is being overwhelemed just as Liotta described. And U.S. government decision paralysis telegraphs weakness.And weakness attracts attack. A cacophony of global chaos is set to explode in everyone’s face.

Analysts like Glosserman speak of China’s desire for a multipolarity world, or China’s desire to counterbalance American power, or Russia’s desire to do the same. This is a common understanding among many—and a common mistake. Bible prophecy explains we are at the precipice of an empire apocalypse—a final but quick ascendance of three great world powers, ruled by tyrants, that are vying for total world dominance!

Don’t be deceived: Russia and China are not the least bit interested in a multipolar world. They are not interested in regional hegemony—they are moving quickly to dominate the world. That is what their actions tell us. They are partnering together to achieve a globe-encircling empire because they can see a more powerful Europe is just one strong leader away! They also see a weak America. They are moving to seize the last hour in mankind’s collapsing civilization to come out on top, to win the war of what Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has termed the chaotic present.

The race is on to reorder the world. This is why China and Russia are breaking fences instead of mending them.

This is exactly what the Bible forecast! As this world rapidly descends into chaos, the winner will be the one who controls its course. Russia and China, through their coordinated strategy of chaos, seek to overwhelm and conquer America first. Although Bible prophecy says Russia and China will rise, Germany will rise faster. It will reach the very pinnacle of world empire, before the climax of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming puts down all nations, establishing peace and harmony over all the Earth.

In the meantime, fasten your seat belts.

What Secret Did Herbert W. Armstrong Tell Israeli Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor?

What Secret Did Herbert W. Armstrong Tell Israeli Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor?

Trumpet

Two leaders discuss the only possible way to bring lasting peace to the Middle East.

When Pope Francis visits Israel on May 26, he is also scheduled, according to the Vatican itinerary, to visit the “State of Palestine”—an entity that the nation of Israel does not acknowledge. Because of his apparent neutrality in the Israel-Palestine conflict, some Palestinians are planning to ask Pope Francis to help them in their land disputes with Israel.

Francis is not expected to speak out about the land disputes, but the Palestinian appeal raises the question: Why is peace in the Middle East so elusive?

This is a question that has permeated discussion of the region for decades, centuries and even millennia. About 30 years ago, an internationally recognized ambassador for world peace discussed the question with an Israeli Knesset speaker. Speaking to his worldwide television audience, Mr. Armstrong recounted, “For the first time as far as I know, they allowed a private television crew to tape for television this conference between me and the speaker of the Knesset.”

It was Oct. 26, 1983, and the internationally recognized ambassador for world peace was accompanied by his personal aid, world news editor for The Plain Truth and Israeli Consul General to the U.S. in Los Angeles, Michael Ravin. The meeting took place in the private office of Menachem Savidor, who served as Knesset speaker from 1981 to 1984. The following is a transcript from that meeting.

Mr. Savidor: “You know that we have some basic problems in the Israeli economy. And then there are the conjectural ones. The basic problems are that a country spending one third of its gross national product on defense, one third to pay off debts. Now we are a coalition government, and the tail is walking the dog.

“In other words, every small splinter group [is] stretching out their arms; they are not arm strong, they are arm weak. And they ask for money to run their ministries and prove that they are successful. And since one third of our gross national product is inadequate to provide all this welfare and education and development, they grant themselves to a printing press. I am simplifying a complicated subject, Mr. Armstrong.”

Mr. Armstrong: “You know I see now as I didn’t when I was younger, the trouble in the whole world and its the trouble here, and it’s the trouble in other places, and its a world trouble. It’s every man for himself. People will join together and ally in groups provided that group can be against some other group. It’s person against person, group against group.

“Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. If there is contention, and if they are in a bad attitude and one is trying to get the best of the other or take from the other, you have no basis for peace. Now that’s the trouble in the whole world.”

Knowing Mr. Armstrong had just spent the preceding five days in Amman, Savidor went on to ask what the prevailing mindset was in Jordan.

Mr. Savidor: “Did you find any open-heartedness and a new spirit that we could engage in a dialogue and hammer out a settlement between us and our cousins?”

Mr. Armstrong: “Last time I talked with King Hussein was last March, and I told him that one thing that I would like to do would be to get him and Mr. Begin on my jet aircraft. And I said, ‘I know Mr. Begin would like to do it, and I know you would IF!’ And he began to laugh and said, ‘Yes, I would, IF.’ The if is the other Arab nations and what they would say about it. I find that the Jordanians do not feel as hostile toward Israel now as I think other Arab nations do. I think they would really like to be friends.”

Mr. Savidor: “I would like to tell you, Mr. Armstrong, and this is a fact. About the 18th or 17th day after the war broke out in Lebanon, … Syria was beaten and Soviet prestige was at the lowest ebb, and the source of intimidation was not there. But then they started with new plans. Instead of giving it a push and momentum, and sit down and discuss this, the American government wanted to enlist, at the same time, the full friendship of Syria and the plo. And you know, there were all sorts of negotiations behind our back, and they allowed the Soviets to rearm and to reintroduce themselves with 5,000 more experts and new, more sophisticated dangerous weaponry, and that’s where we failed.

“Well, I am saying this because after all the United States of America is the protector of the free world. If, God forbid, they just wrap up and disappear from this area and so on, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mr. Armstrong: “The United States wants to be a friend of Israel. They want to support Israel, but also our government at Washington wants to keep the friendship of the Arab nations.”

Mr. Savidor: “This is legitimate; this is legitimate; this is legitimate. You can keep the friendship with the Arab countries if you show resoluteness, vigor and vision—and you show tenacity, perseverance. You have to, in order to address yourself to the Lebanese entanglement, you have to attack the fundamental issues, and you should not divorce yourself from the historic or basic data about this country.

“So they have a national pact that the president should be a Christian, the prime minister is a Moslem, the president of the Parliament is a Moslem Shiite and so forth. Unfortunately, in this animosity and this ethnic mosaic you have in Lebanon, with Soviet communist agents inside, and the wrangling and bickering and the skirmishes between them encourage the Soviet resistance to take hold all the time, it is, I am afraid, a very, very unpleasant task. Almost immaterializable. I don’t know how they are going to. Well, we are living in a turbulent world.”

Mr. Armstrong: “But I tell you, this is only going to be solved one way, and we humans aren’t going to solve it. But the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is going to have to solve it for us. And it will be solved, and it won’t be long now, and it will be done. I don’t mean a year or so, but I don’t mean another 100 years either.

“We’re in a crisis at the close of all civilization in this world. And the very hub of the whole world crisis is right here. And things are going to happen here to Jerusalem. Now one thing I can tell you, you’re going to see big events take place in Europe very soon. I am in touch personally with the men who are leading to reunite Europe. Reunite! They can’t understand why they are not making better progress now. Franz Joseph Strauss, Otto Von Habsburg, are friends of mine, and they’re working for a united Europe, and it’s going to happen sooner than they realize.

“Mr. Habsburg came to Pasadena to see me about two months ago, and he was a little discouraged that they are not making faster progress. Something is going to happen to force a new united Europe that’ll be a nation as strong and as powerful, if not maybe more so, than either the Soviet Union or the United States. Now our people in the United States don’t believe that. Nobody believes it, but biblical prophecy says it’s going to happen. And mark my words, it will happen. I am not speaking like a wild-eyed fanatic that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And it’s going to affect Israel over here very seriously. It’s going to affect the United States very seriously.”

Mr. Savidor: “Well, the idea of a united Europe is, in my opinion, realizable. And after all, Europe was one nation with several languages and vernaculars.”

Mr. Armstrong: “United by the Catholic Church.”

Mr. Savidor: “Yes.”

Mr. Armstrong: “Prophecies like the second chapter of Daniel, the seventh chapter of Daniel, and a few other chapters in Daniel, the 14th chapter of Zechariah, tell us a lot, and that is not make believe.”

Mr. Savidor: “I wish I could have you when I am arguing with the Orthodox and national religious party here.”

Mr. Armstrong: “They wouldn’t listen.”

Mr. Savidor: “To have your background in the Bible, I could resist all the pressures of the religious parties in this Knesset.”

Mr. Armstrong: “Believe me, you will find the Bible is true, absolutely, and it’s going to happen.”

Mr. Savidor: “Well, I wish it come true.”

Mr. Armstrong: “People just can’t understand and they can’t believe. They don’t believe what it says. If they believed what it says, we could have a better world. It’s not just some visionary, it’s very practical.”

Mr. Savidor: “Well, we live in a consumer society—the tenants and basic values of our culture, of our civilization. This is a menace to the survival of the basic moral values of the Western world.”

Mr. Armstrong: “It all gets back to a way of life. There is a law. Law merely. Now your a lawmaking man; the Knesset is a lawmaking body. I spoke before the Constitutional Law Department at the University of Southern California, in their law school, and I was mentioning that law is merely the rules that regulate human conduct. It’s a way of life. The law of God is love, which is outflowing regard and concern for the good and welfare of others, as well as yourself, and equal to yourself. We don’t have that in this world. We have a law operating in this world and that law is vanity: I love me; I don’t care about you; every man for himself; I want everything for me, but I’m going to disagree with you. It’s competition instead of cooperation. Instead of cooperation and unity of the right attitude and spirit, we find people joining together in conflict with other groups, one group against another.

“Now, in World War ii, the United States and Britain were fighting against Germany. Now they try to ally with Germany against Russia. In World War ii, the United States was allied with Russia against Germany. We ally, then we change our allies, alliances. And we don’t see it all gets back to a basic attitude of mind and way of living. Now, I see that God’s way is wanting to help, wanting to share. Now that’s the way we do: We come to Israel; we don’t ask anything of Israel. You can’t find a single friend of ours over here to tell you I’ve ever tried to get anything here. I come here to give. You can check that all you want, you’ll find it’s true.”

Mr. Savidor: “Well I know.”

Mr. Armstrong: “When people can get into that attitude we’ll begin to have world peace. We’re not going to have that until, you know the Bible also prophesies a Messiah is going to come. And it is going to happen, and we are going to have world peace. We’re not going to have it man’s way as long as man wants to organize as he’s doing: this group against that group, this nation against that nation, this individual against that individual. It just can’t be.”

Mr. Savidor: “You are right.”

Mr. Armstrong: “As for us, we are not going to solve the world’s problems right now. And as for us—meaning the work that I’m doing, not the United States—we love Israel, we love the people of Israel, and we come here in peace to help. We know we are not going to bring peace now. My job is to proclaim the way of peace, not to accomplish peace. But to proclaim the way of the Almighty God who is going to accomplish it, and going to do it to us whether we like it or we don’t—He is going to compel people to have peace. It’s going to take force! Force greater than human force. And in the meantime, we just try to have as much peace as we can. Now, I’m a friend of Arab people, a friend of the Israelis, a friend of the Japanese, a friend of black people in Africa. And we have projects in all of these countries, and we know that we’re not going to bring peace, but we believe we should do what we can toward peace in the meantime. And I proclaim the way of peace.”

Mr. Savidor: “Well, Mr. Armstrong, I am, first of all, very privileged to have you in my office, the fortress of Israel’s democracy. May I just present you with [the] Medal of the Knesset. It pictures the building and then the sides of the three monotheistic faces of Jerusalem is holy to them. So here is the medal which shows Jerusalem for which you have done so much, and the Knesset the only fortress of democracy in the Middle East. And here is what I say, ‘To the honorable Mr. Herbert Armstrong. In appreciation of his true friendship of the land and people of Israel, and his magnanimous gestures which aid and strengthen the spiritual and moral tenants of our common culture. Menachem Savidor, Speaker of the Knesset.’ With my best wishes.”

Mr. Armstrong: “Oh, thank you so much—it’s a wonderful honor.”

Ukraine’s Presidential Vote Darkened by Russian Shadows

Ukraine’s Presidential Vote Darkened by Russian Shadows

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

In an interview with theTrumpet.com, Ukrainian activist Taras Revunets says, ‘We should have kept some of our nukes as a deterrent.’

Ukrainians are voting today in a presidential election which many hope will be a step toward resolving the nation’s crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow will “respect the choice of Ukrainian people,” but in light of his recent track record, and since pro-Russian separatists in the east are threatening to block the vote, many Ukrainians remain pessimistic.

“We’re voting for the lesser of two evils,” said Kiev-based political activist Taras Revunets in a May 24 interview with theTrumpet.com. The “two” he refers to are the presidential frontrunners, former Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Both are wealthy veterans of the Ukrainian political scene, and Revunets says the majority of Ukrainians are uninspired by either choice.

“Most Ukrainians see both as old-school politicians,” he said. “Both evoke memories of backstage politics, rivalry, and lost opportunities since the Orange Revolution a decade ago. While only cautiously optimistic about Poroshenko, many of us simply want Tymoshenko to retire from politics.”

Revunets runs the acclaimed Ukrainian Updates microblog, from which he helps keep the world apprised of developments in the ongoing Ukraine crisis, which began some six months ago when the outbreak of protests led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and to civil conflict among Ukrainians, with Russia covertly stoking the flames.

Revunets was among the activists who stormed the presidential palace after Yanukovych fled, and says that Poroshenko deserves recognition for his participation in those protests. “I personally saw him at the Maidan here in Kyiv the night of February 18, when a few dozen protesters died,” he said.

He posted this photo a few days after that violence and Yanukovych’s ouster, to show the corruption of the pro-Russia regime:

Petro Poroshenko owns one of Ukraine’s major confectionery/chocolate firms, which Revunets says “sweetens his credentials” in the eyes of many voters. Tymoshenko, on the other hand amassed much of her wealth while running a natural-gas trading firm. “Whoever wins, Gas Princess or Chocolate Prince,” Revunets said, “it’s up to us the little guys to hold their royal egos in check.”

But inflated Ukrainian egos are not the most menacing of the nation’s problems.

With Russian troops still massed on Ukraine’s border and with pro-Moscow insurgents controlling great swaths of the nation’s East, the Russian threat looms large. It casts dark shadows over the election now underway.

Is it just the fate of one faraway country that’s on the line? Not if you look at the big picture. And if you do, you’ll see a potential global security crisis.
Taras Revunets
Revunets believes Western powers should provide more help in Ukraine’s drive to counter Russian aggression, partly because the threat extends far beyond Ukraine’s borders. “The West should know what’s at stake here,” he said. “Is it just the fate of one faraway country that’s on the line? Not if you look at the big picture. And if you do, you’ll see a potential global security crisis. In today’s interdependent and interconnected world, we’re one big neighborhood.”

Like many analysts, Revunets says the United States should be doing more to actively prevent Russia from destabilizing Ukraine (and from propping up a new pro-Russia regime to replace Yanukovych), for two main reasons: First, the Budapest Memorandum, and, second, to keep aggressor nations from thinking they can now redraw borders without consequence.

Budapest Memorandum

“Twenty years ago, Ukraine lost the world’s third nuclear arsenal,” Revunets said. “Two months ago, we lost a part of our country.”

It is true that not long ago, Ukraine had one of the most advance nuclear arsenals in the world. With some 5,000 weapons, it was—as Revunets said—outsized only by the arsenals of the U.S. and Russia. But all that changed in 1994 when the leaders of the U.S., UK, Ireland and Russia signed an agreement with Ukraine, which basically said that if Kyiv would give up its nuclear weapons then they would promise to uphold its territorial integrity.

Article one of the Memorandum says, “The United States of America, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine … to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

As Churchill put it, ‘You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.’ Hope I’m wrong on this.
Those “existing borders” included Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. By annexing Crimea, and working to destabilize the other two regions, Russia has failed to live up to its end of the deal. And Revunets says that, so far, the U.S. and other signatories “have failed to hold Russia to account.”

“We should have kept some of our nukes as a deterrent,” he said, explaining that in possession of such an arsenal, Ukraine would have been more inclined to wage war with Russia over Crimea instead of quietly surrendering it. “As Churchill put it, ‘You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.’ Hope I’m wrong on this,” he said.

Encouragement for Potential Aggressors

“So far, Western sanctions have been spineless,” Revunets says. He believes that the West’s flaccid response to Russian aggression will encourage other potential aggressor nations to take what they want without fear of retaliation.

“The world is watching and weighing its options,” he said. “Will key U.S. allies that have big aggressive neighbors continue relying on U.S. security assurances? Or will they go nuclear themselves? What about countries like India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea? Will they follow Ukraine’s example of being disarmed, disowned and dismembered?”

Indeed, China seems to have been inspired by America’s “spineless” retaliation against Russia, and has recently ratcheted up its belligerent behavior against neighboring nations such as Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. If Revunets is right, then we can expect belligerence from nations like Russia and China to increase, and for no other nation to surrender its nuclear weapons as Ukraine did in 1994.

In this Twitter post, Mr. Revunets displays a photo of anti-Russia Ukrainians taking down a statue of Soviet ruler Vladimir Lenin:

Troubled Elections

Revunets also believes that the referendums earlier this month, in which voters in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions allegedly voted to separate from Ukraine, were not valid because of Russian pressure. “Would any referendum be considered legitimate if run by well-trained masked gunmen? Armed with grenade launchers and portable anti-aircraft missiles? In a country other than their own? Under the flags of their country, not the host country? As if it’s some sort of Olympics and they’re one of the biathlon teams? A referendum in which one can vote four times? Using ballots printed on copiers?”

On May 11, the day of the referendum, Mr. Revunets posted this photo showing a voter place multiple ballots into the receptacle, instead of the lawful single ballot:

Because of irregularities in the referendums in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, some question whether attempts may be made to manipulate the presidential vote underway today.

A big part of the tension in the East, according to Revunets, is Russian propaganda. “Russian media reign supreme in Eastern Ukraine, the Russified part of the country,” he said. “So the new government, as imperfect as it is in trying to fix things, gets blamed for everything that’s wrong with Ukraine these days. The Kremlin-controlled media rely on clichés like junta, fascists, self-proclaimed authorities, etc. to fan the flames of separatism in the East.”

Russia’s end game, Revunets says, is to “[c]apitalize on the protest vote to tear Ukraine apart, one referendum at a time, and to create so-called New Russia, in Ukraine’s Black Sea belt.”

“If Ukraine doesn’t resist,” he says, Russia will “move on to the next target.” But “if Ukraine does resist, if there’s a ‘civil war’ in Ukraine, why not send regular troops, or ‘peacekeepers,’ as [the Russians] call them? Who said arsonists can’t be firefighters?”

The Ukrainian situation remains tense, and its difficult to say whether the vote underway today will be the step toward stability that many hope for or a step in the other direction. Indications are that the billionaire chocolate magnate Poroshenko will be elected, and Vladimir Putin has already expressed willingness to work with him. Revunets says it is hard to say whether Poroshenko’s leadership would be beneficial to Ukraine, or if he would become another minion for Putin. He said: “Poroshenko’s ‘Live Life Anew’ campaign seduces voters into giving him the benefit of the doubt. But, as Forrest Gump put it, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

To understand more about the ongoing Ukraine turmoil, read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s analysis “The Crimean Crisis Is Reshaping Europe.”

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